“A person engages in “gambling” when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.” (1)
So one of the keys here is the part about not under his control or influence, which has been interpreted as having any element of chance at all. Playing poker would not be entirely under one’s control or influence, as the way the cards land affect the outcome of the bet in a material way of course.
Betting on an arm wrestling contest, for instance, would be an example of a bet being under one’s control, as long as the betting was limited to the participants. If another party were involved, the outcome would then not be under their control.
In case further clarification is needed, the statute does also define “contest of chance,” which “means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that the skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.” (2)
So once again, poker does depend to a material degree upon chance, regardless of the element of skill present, so it does fall within the definition of gambling in Missouri. So with that out of the way, it now becomes very simple: “A person commits the crime of gambling if he knowingly engages in gambling.” (3)
It is a more serious offense if the gambling is committed by a “professional player,” which is defined as deriving at least 20% of one’s income for one year over the past 5 years from gambling, in which the charge is upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony.
So the law in Missouri clearly targets players, although no online poker player has yet been charged with this offense. This has not been the case anywhere in the United States in fact. Anti-gambling enforcement continues to be focused on public gambling, although in many states, such as Missouri, any unauthorized gambling may be an offense.
Live Poker In Missouri
Missouri does offer a total of 7 live poker rooms within the state, offering a total of about 100 live poker tables, with 6 more located close to the border or adjoining states, so there’s plenty of opportunity for players from Missouri to engage in legal poker playing with all of the fun and excitement that comes with live action.
Among the live poker rooms located in Missouri are the Ameristar Casino Kansas City in Kansas City (15 tables), Harrah’s North Kansas City in Kansas City (15 tables), the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau in Cape Girardeau (7 tables), the River City Casino in St. Louis (14 tables), the Ameristar Casino St. Charles in St. Charles (19 tables), the Hollywood Casino St. Louis in Maryland Heights (21 tables), and the Lumiere Place Casino in St. Louis (13 tables). (4)
There are currently no plans in Missouri to introduce an online poker bill at this time, so players who wish to play sanctioned and regulated poker in Missouri will have to be content to play at one of their live poker rooms. However, as you’ll find out in the section below, there are still online poker options for players in this state.
Playing Online Poker In Missouri
Just because it’s an offense to play online poker in a given state doesn’t necessarily keep online poker rooms from offering it to players of that state, as this is only one factor that goes into these decisions.
With Missouri though, they have a history of going after internet gambling operators, going all the way back to 1997, in which an American resident was charged and convicted of promoting gambling in Missouri by way of the internet. (5) Interestingly though, the player involved in this action was not prosecuted.
The State of Missouri has been very active on this front since and have filed several other actions against online gaming operators, including playing a leading role in causing PayPal to cease processing payments related to gambling in this country.
Due to both these actions and the state’s very outspoken stance against internet gambling, it is not surprising that some online poker rooms have chosen to cease accepting players from this state.
Ignition Poker and Casino
Nonetheless, the good folks at Ignition Poker and Casino have persevered in accepting Missourians, who continue to be welcomed there despite all the efforts the US government to try and prohibit online poker in the country. So if you are from Missouri and are up to playing some online poker, you will be happy to know that the opportunity to do so still exists.
Ignition also happens to be one of the very best places for Americans in general to play online poker these days, and offer a high quality poker room with reasonably good traffic. They also offer a nice welcome bonus where they will match your first deposit with them to the tune of up to $1,000. They’ll also give you a free $5 casino chip just for registering a new account.
So whether you like cash games or tournaments, you’ll find plenty of both going on and you can get involved in the fun of poker without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.
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